Posted tagged ‘Great Commission Resurgence’

The Alabama Baptist: A Case Study in the GCR Debate

June 3, 2010

You may not be Southern Baptist, and you may not be from the state of Alabama, but if you’ve got a moment and care about the Great Commission Resurgence, I like to offer a few thoughts.  I am one of those boys born and raised Southern Baptist, and for 20 of my 31 years of life, I was an Alabama Baptist–one saved (1987), baptized, licensed (1997), educated (University of Mobile, 1997-2001), and ordained (2001) in Alabama Baptist churches.  As a college student, I traveled and preached in numerous Alabama Baptist churches, and my childhood pastor (Fred Lackey) was two-time president of our state convention.  While many 20 year old guys were defeating the latest video game, I found myself debating old, bald-headed CBF dudes on the convention floor of our state convention annual meeting about inerrancy.  I suppose I could bore you with more stories, but I share this because, while I was born and raised Southern Baptist, I grew to become a Baptist by conviction and appreciation of our rich confessional and missional heritage.

Although I am no longer an Alabama Baptist (I pastor in sunny South Florida in a county where evangelicals comprise less than 5% of the population), I still try to keep up with all that is happening back “home.”  In recent months, I have come to see that, under the direction of its editor, Bob Terry, The Alabama Baptist has become a significant factor in opposition to the Great Commission Resurgence.  Consider the steady flow of articles, beginning from early March of this year:

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Baptist21 Luncheon and Panel Discussion in Orlando

June 2, 2010

For those of you heading down (or up for me) to Orlando in two weeks for the SBC Annual Meeting, you will want to be sure to sign up for the Baptist21 Luncheon and Panel Discussion.  This is an opportunity to hear and discuss important issues related to the SBC and Great Commission Resurgence and give voice to the younger generation supporting gospel renewal and missional vision.  On a selfish note, I hear that books will be given away as well.  The details are listed below,, and to register for this event, click here.  Check out their promo with David Platt . . .

B21 Panel Info:

WHENJune 15th 11:30 am – 1:30 pm (during the lunch break of this year’s Southern Baptist Convention in Orlando immediately following President Hunt’s address). Lunch will be provided.

WHERE: The panel will be on site at the Convention in the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC), W414

WHO is on the b21 panel:

•                Daniel Akin
•                Matt Chandler
•                Albert Mohler
•                David Platt
•                Jimmy Scroggins
•                Ed Stetzer
•                Ronnie Floyd
•                Johnny Hunt

WHY: This is a pivotal year for the SBC with the report coming from the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force. This could be a “tipping point” for our future. We want to have significant leaders help guide us in thinking through these issues.

HOW MUCH: There will be a $7 charge that will accompany registration for the event. This $7 will include lunch and books.

POSSIBLE TOPICS:

•   Gospel-centrality in life and the church
•   Discerning what ministries to prioritize in the church, associations, denominations?
•   Great Commission Resurgence
•   How the Gospel should affect budgets: church, personal, a denomination, etc.
•   Cooperative Program and Great Commission Giving
•   Challenges facing the SBC in next year
•   Why should I stay in the SBC when there are others doing great mission work?

Nathan Finn on Spiritual and Structural Problems in the SBC

February 24, 2010

Nathan Finn writes an excellent piece at Between the Times regarding the two natures of the problems in the SBC.  I have been told in person and elsewhere via conference calls by denominational employees that the problem is spiritual, not structural, and all that we need to do is keep doing what we do while hoping for revival.  I’m grateful that the GCR Task Force has not bought into this line of thinking and is attempting to make some significant reform.

Here’s an excerpt from Finn’s article:

The structural and the spiritual coincide. To argue otherwise is to perpetuate a false dichotomy. Structure to varying degrees reflects spiritual concerns, and at times spiritual issues are exacerbated by structural shortcomings. The SBC needs a renewal in both areas.

Be sure to read the whole thing.

The GCR Progress Report [Video]

February 23, 2010

Last night, Southern Baptist leaders from all across the country came together with the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force (GCRTF) for a progress report led by its chairman, Ronnie Floyd.  The GCRTF Report is slated to be released on May 3, 2010 with a final report in print on June 15-16, 2010.

Below is the video of Dr. Floyd’s progress report.  After watching it, let me know what you think. Let’s pray for a Great Commission Resurgence made possible through the resurgence of the local church.

Charles Finney, Cooperation, and the GCR

November 17, 2009

Over at Between the Times, Drs. Danny Akin and Bruce Ashford have continued their excellent series on “Seven Crucial Aspects of Our Mission” (which is broken down in true Puritan style of multiple sub-points and cases) with an article focusing on cooperation between Calvinists and non-Calvinists.  As you know, this issue has been with us for a very long time, and during the more heated moments in recent SBC life, I was documenting all the events, articles, and commentary that was taking place.

Having been involved in Southern Baptist discourse for the past 6-7 years (I know, I’m young), I would argue that the relations between Calvinists and non-Calvinists is the best that it has been.  The rhetoric and caricatures are rare, and the conversation between those with soteriological differences has increased, especially with the advent of Twitter.  I know it’s crazy, but Twitter as a social-networking platform has interconnected Southern Baptists in a form of internet community that would otherwise not exist in real life.  I’m not sure as to why or how this has happened, but perhaps “following” each other has allowed us to see that those with whom we disagree are not as bad as we think they are.  They love Jesus, desire to honor Him in faithfully preaching His Word, and are genuinely seeking to make a difference for the glory of God.  Having the opportunity to see glimpses into the lives of people who otherwise would be a faceless name or distant interlocutor makes you think twice before lobbing bombs at one another.  We are not enemies.  We are brothers in the trenches seeking to advance the kingdom against our common enemy, the devil.

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Who Will Go? A Great Commission Plea from the Prince of Preachers

October 26, 2009

Charles Spurgeon spoke of a message “which weighed on him” that should weight heavily on us.  Hear his impassioned plea:

“I plead this day for those who cannot plead for themselves, namely, the great outlying masses of the heathen world.  Our existing pulpits are tolerably well supplied, but we need men who will build on new foundations.  Who will do this?

Are we, as a company of faithful men, clear in our consciences about the heathen?  Millions have never heard the Name of Jesus.  Hundreds of millions have seen a missionary only once in their lives, and know nothing of our King. Shall we let them perish?

Can we go to our beds and sleep, while China, India, Japan, and other nations are being damned?  Are we clear of their blood?  Have they no claim on us?  We ought to put it on this footing–not, ‘Can I prove that I ought to go?’ but, ‘Can I prove that I ought not to go?’

When a man can honestly prove that he ought not to go, then he is clear, but not else.  What answer do you give, my brethren?  I put it to you man by man.  I am not raising a question among you which I have not honestly put to myself.  I have felt that, if some of our leading ministers would go forth, it would have a grand effect in stimulating the churches, and I have honestly asked myself whether I ought to go.  After balancing the whole thing, I feel bound to keep my place, and I think the judgment of most Christians would confirm my decision; but I hope that I would readily, and willingly, and cheerfully go abroad if I did not feel that I ought to remain at home.

Brethren, put yourselves through the same process.  We must have the heathen converted; God has myriads of His elect among them, we must go and search for them somehow or other.  Many difficulties are now removed, all lands are open to us, and distance is almost annihilated.  True, we have not the Pentecostal tongues; but languages are now readily acquired, while the art of printing is a full equivalent for the lost gift.

The dangers incident to missions ought not to keep any true man back, even if they were very great, but they are now reduced to a minimum.  There are hundreds of places where the cross of Christ is unknown, to which we can go without risk.  Who will go?

[ . . .] Surely there is some self-sacrifice among us yet, and some among us who are willing to be exiled for Jesus.  The Mission languishes for want of men.  If the men were forthcoming, the liberality of the Church has provided the supply, and yet there are not men to go.  I shall never feel, brethren, that we, as a band of men, have done our duty until we see our comrades fighting for Jesus in every land in the van of the conflict.  I believe that, if God moves you to go, you will be among the best of missionaries, because you will make the preaching of the gospel the great feature of your work, and that is God’s sure way of power.”

– Charles H. Spurgeon, “Forward!” in An All-Around Ministry (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2000), 55-57.

God, give us such hearts that bleed for the peoples who do not know you and tears that plead for your glory to be seen and souls satisfied forever in Jesus.

The GCR Task Force Luncheon Audio & Video

August 28, 2009

This past week, the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force held an open luncheon in Rogers, AR.  The videos of the luncheon are embedded below, but you can also download the audio of the luncheon by clicking here.

Part 1 of the video of the GCR luncheon held on August 26, 2009. This luncheon was for all pastors, staff members, any denominational employee, as well as any layperson serving as a trustee of one of the SBC entities, and featured a Q&A time with GCR Task Force Members.

Part 2 of the video of the GCR luncheon held on August 26, 2009. This luncheon was for all pastors, staff members, any denominational employee, as well as any layperson serving as a trustee of one of the SBC entities, and featured a Q&A time with GCR Task Force Members.

Thanks for GCRTF for making these resources available (for free) to fellow Southern Baptists.

Parking the Great Commission

July 7, 2009

Sunday night, we parked the Great Commission.

It’s fourth of July weekend, lots of people traveling out of town on vacation, and with one of the biggest holidays of the year, the reasonable thing to do would be to alter the Sunday format to accommodate according to lowered expectations.

Not exactly.

About a month ago, I pitched the idea to take advantage of the 4th of July weekend by taking our church gathering to the biggest park in town and reach out to the community.  With the recent convention travels, VBS, and a busy June, very little time was allowed (one week to be exact!) to plan what I was calling “Worship @ the Park” (not to mention that half our staff would be en route overseas with a team to labor among an UPG).  For those of you who do not know, Grace is not a large church, so there was no cool signage, props, or video promotionals.  In fact, the fliers we passed out was made by yours truly with MS Word and an old Flickr photo. 🙂

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Creeds, Deeds, and the Great Commission: Dr. Danny Akin at the 2009 Founders Breakfast (MP3 & Video)

July 2, 2009

On Tuesday, June 23, 2009 Founders Ministries held their annual breakfast at the Southern Baptist Convention in Louisville, Kentucky.  Dr. Danny Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, was guest speaker and addressed the 200+ in attendance with a message from 3 John entitled “Creeds, Deeds, and the Great Commission.”  Akin concludes his excellent exposition with words of appreciation and caution for future partnership in a Great Commission Resurgence which I encourage all my Calvinist brothers to hear.  The breakfast concluded with by Akin answering a few questions, including one from Tom Ascol about working with non-Calvinists for the cause of gospel consensus and reaching the nations.

The audio and video was produced from my hip pocket – literally.  I ripped the audio from my Livescribe Pulse pen and the video is from my Kodak Zi6 handheld HD Camcorder.  This breakfast was a warm and rewarding time of fellowship, encouragement, instruction, and godly exhortation, and I hope you enjoy it as well.

Here’s the MP3: Founders Breakfast with Danny Akin

Here’s the video:

Note: It is best to play and pause the video until the entire message is buffered for better viewing.

Reflections on My First SBC Annual Meeting: 10 Highlights

June 26, 2009

As usual, I’m one of the last people to get around to writing a summary of their experience at the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Louisville, KY.  I mentioned in my previous post that this was my first time ever attending one of these, so I was eager to make the most of it.  Each day began around 4:45am and did not end until midnight, and due to the high volume of tweeting, texting, and emailing, I was recharging the iPhone 2-3 times a day.

Generally speaking, this was an off-year and expected to be a down year in attendance as a result.  However, the news of the Great Commission Resurgence task force coupled with the strategic location where there is a higher concentration of informed and interested younger Southern Baptists, the economic recession and off-year scheduling could not keep back the 8,500+ messengers, many of whom were in my generation.  This is significant because it is over a thousand more than last year when a key Presidential election was taking place.

During the flight back, I took some time to bullet point some of the highlights and lowlights of my first SBC experience.  In this post, I want to mention some highlights to be followed by some lowlights in a follow-up post. Now for some highlights.

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The Backstory to the Great Commission Resurgence

June 17, 2009

Three months ago, I took the time to collect the digital paper trail regarding the development of a Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) that has dominated denominational news in Southern Baptist life.  For many Southern Baptists, the talk of GCR has just hit their ears, and yet the impetus for the GCR began nearly five years ago.  Let me explain.

I. Dr. Thom Rainer (May 2005)

In 2004, Dr. Thom Rainer, then Dean of the Billy Graham School of Evangelism, Missions & Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, conducted a study to examine the evangelistic effectiveness of Southern Baptists since the Conservative Resurgence.  The results revealed that although evangelism would have been much worse without the CR, Southern Baptists since 1979 were failing in evangelism.  The analysis of Dr. Rainer was eventually published in the Spring 2005 edition of The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology in an article entitled “A Resurgence Not Yet Realized: Evangelistic Effectiveness in the Southern Baptist Convention since 1979.”  It was in this article that Dr. Rainer argued,

“When we are passionately obedient about Christ’s commission to share the Gospel in all that we do, then the resurgence will have taken its full course.”

Through the sober realization and honest analysis of our current state, the battle cry for a Great Commission Resurgence sounded forth from a leading voice in the SBC.  For more background info, check out the following articles:

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Denominations Don’t Fulfill the Great Commission – The Christian Index Confesses

June 4, 2009

Over the past two months, there has been a major push for a Great Commission Resurgence in the SBC.  For the record, I am in favor and advocate others to sign on to this vision for the future of Southern Baptist life.  However, unlike years past, I have not been as informed or interested in all the chatter on the internet from blogs and punditry for a myriad of reasons.  Nevertheless, I have tried to stay tuned into the ongoing flurry of articles about the small corner of the evangelical block that is the SBC.

What I want to call your attention to in particular is an interview published by Baptist Press about Jerry Vines and his caveats regarding signing the GCR document.  Last week, SBCToday guys shared that Vines “has allowed his name to be added” to the document with “caveats” (it should be noted that 3100+ other Southern Baptists “allowed” their names to be added without fanfare).  But the media hype behind Vines’ caveats has served a great purpose by affording The Christian Index to make a wonderful confession.

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Toward a Gospel Consensus for a Great Commission Resurgence

April 8, 2009

I, along with many others, have been giving considerable thought with the desire to see a great commission resurgence in my generation.  I am fully on board with the vision and look forward to being a foot soldier in the cause of participating in the mission of God through the advancement of the gospel in the local church with God’s Spirit-empowered people set apart for the glory of Christ.

It has been nearly four years since the idea of a “Great Commission Resurgence” was coined by Dr. Thom Rainer upon LifeWay’s research which revealed that post-conservative resurgence Southern Baptists are no more evangelistic than pre-conservative resurgence Southern Baptists.  There has been a disconnect between the recovery of the inerrancy of the Bible and the resurgence of mission that should have resulted from submission to the Lordship of Christ along with the authority and sufficiency of Scripture.  While the formal principle may not be in question, the material principle has yet to make it beyond campaign slogans and traveling bus tours.

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The Gospel: Our Greatest Common Denominator

February 24, 2009

Two weeks ago, I shared my thoughts about Baptist Press throwing Mark Driscoll under the bus. One particular point that has been written about is the two competing visions for the future of the SBC.  Here is what I wrote:

There are two competing visions for the SBC going on right now: the Great Commission Resurgence under the direction of Danny Akin and David Dockery headquartered at SEBTS, and the Baptist Identity Movement under the direction of Paige Patterson and Malcolm Yarnell headquartered at Southwestern Seminary.  Prior to the Annual Meeting in Indy last year, the Baptist Identity boys were blazing the Internet with series of blogposts talking about Baptist distinctives and in particular “ecumenical compromise.”  From the Annual Meeting forward, however, the Great Commission Resurgence has won the day, leaving the Baptist Identity crowd in the wake full of a separatistic, landmarkist agenda.   Having Driscoll (and Mahaney) who do not share the same ecclesiology and distinctives lead Patterson and his camp to consider the actions of Akin and SEBTS as Baptist compromisers.   The BP article on Driscoll is an indication, in my mind, of an attempt to discredit the leadership of Akin and undermine the Great Commission Resurgence movement in the SBC.  Fortunately, most Southern Baptists are not buying it.

Last week, Tom Ascol explained these competing visions with further detail.  During this time, the Baptist Identity group have sought to capitalize on what they see as a major fault of the Great Commission Resurgence camp by having Mark Driscoll speak at SEBTS’ chapel and collegiate conference. This was, in their opinion, a perfect example of the “ecumenical compromise” reflecting a lack of commitment to Baptist identity.  The talking point quickly became the “lowest common denominator” implying that the cooperation they enjoy comes at the expense of upholding Baptist distinctives.

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Tom Ascol on the Future of the SBC

February 20, 2009

Last week, I shared my take on Baptist Press throwing Mark Driscoll under the bus, including the underlying factors that come into play.  One of the main factors was the competing visions of the SBC.  On point five, I wrote the following:

There are two competing visions for the SBC going on right now: the Great Commission Resurgence under the direction of Danny Akin and David Dockery headquartered at SEBTS, and the Baptist Identity Movement under the direction of Paige Patterson and Malcolm Yarnell headquartered at Southwestern Seminary.  Prior to the Annual Meeting in Indy last year, the Baptist Identity boys were blazing the Internet with series of blogposts talking about Baptist distinctives and in particular “ecumenical compromise.”  From the Annual Meeting forward, however, the Great Commission Resurgence has won the day, leaving the Baptist Identity crowd in the wake full of a separatistic, landmarkist agenda.   Having Driscoll (and Mahaney) who do not share the same ecclesiology and distinctives lead Patterson and his camp to consider the actions of Akin and SEBTS as Baptist compromisers.   The BP article on Driscoll is an indication, in my mind, of an attempt to discredit the leadership of Akin and undermine the Great Commission Resurgence movement in the SBC.  Fortunately, most Southern Baptists are not buying it.

Last night, Tom Ascol wrote a very important article about the future of the SBC in relation to these two competing visions.  In it, Ascol explains the DNA and direction of each group and why he has firmly place both feet with the Great Commission Resurgence (as have I).  Towards the conclusion of his article, Ascol writes:

As a reformed, Southern Baptist pastor, my feet are firmly planted in the GCR camp. I believe that it is time for Southern Baptists to come together on the basis of our commitment to the gospel. I believe that where this solid, authentic commitment exists, we can find ground for cooperation and fellowship that will enable us to serve the purposes of God better than if we hold each other at arm’s length because of suspicion, fear or disdain.

I invite both my Calvinist and non-Calvinist brothers and sisters to join me in encouraging and working for this kind of future in the SBC. Let’s work together to come to deeper understandings and applications of the gospel. We may disagree at points, but such disagreements, if handled with gospel grace, can work to strengthen our grasp of divine truth rather than to further divide us. That is my hope, and that is my prayer.

Whether you are a Calvinist or not, we can and should all heartily say “Amen” or “right on” or “Boom” (depending on whatever generation you are in).  Let us get on with the glory of the Gospel–living it out in our lives, our churches, and in our world.